Teaching Computer Science: What is a Computer Science Integration Specialist?

Sheena Vaidyanathan, a computer science integration specialist at Los Altos School District in California, says that states, school districts and boards of education have not prioritized computer science education the way they should. Even if not every child will grow up to work as a computer scientist, she thinks everyone should at least get exposure to how computers work.

A couple of things I don’t understand there . . . one is why everyone needs to know “how computers work.” They work on electricity, that’s about all I know about it.

Actually, I know a little more than that, but there’s no reason that everyone should know “how computers work,” any more than everyone should know how phones work, or how cars work, or how refrigerators work.

You can use things without knowing how they work.

I do think everyone can benefit from understanding how programmers think, which is based in part on knowing how computers work, but if you know that computers do exactly what you tell them to do — no more and no less — that’s about all you need to know.

The other thing I don’t understand is what is a “computer science integration specialist”? I had to look up a job description:

  • Consult with each school leader or their designees to gather information about program needs, objectives, functions, features, and data metric requirements. Research need and create plans for computer science/technical personnel and other resources required for implementations for each school.
  • Analyze, define, and document all relevant requirements for the teaching and learning of computer science, including but not limited to the impact on courses of study, streams of data and data capture, logical processes, computer lab or other learning environment requirements. Write and maintain specifications and document relevant workflows.
  • Perform (department management approved) intervention(s) on the identified gaps by implementing existing or developing new appropriate interventions or programs to help create cultures or conditions of success in which computer science programs can flourish.

It goes on and on like that, but after reading the whole thing, I find myself no wiser as to how a person in this role is helping students learn computer science.

Money is available for this but not for hiring teachers with actual computer science education or experience?

Thus spoke The Programmer.

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